Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Diversity in representation of the people

In a representative democracy with a first past the post system you elect one person as your representative as say MP or councillor. One often hears things like, "Women are under-represented' meaning there are fewer women than men elected. But your representative is there as a human being representing you as a human being. Men may represent women. The imbalance is not a sign of male chauvinism but of the problems peculiar to women in standing as representatives like the time taken up by duties caring for the family. Similarly to say various ethnicities or religions are under-represented assumes wrongly that only a person of a given ethnicity or religion can represent people with those backgrounds. But that is not the way it works. However, when the mix among the representatives differs widely from the mix in the constituency there may be a problem.
    I had a look at Ealing Council. I have not as yet looked up the statistics for Eaing's ethnic and religious diversities but there are very diverse populations. From a quick personal survey of the councillors listed in Around Ealing, I estimate 28 out of 69 are British Asian, 41 are white British or Irish.
   The estimated religious mix is 8 Muslim, 8 Sikh  11 Hindu and the rest 42 Christian or other religion or none. I do not see any great imbalances here except in a few wards including my own, Perivale,where all three councillors are British Asian with two Muslim and one Hindu. Those diversities or lack them are not a mirror of the Perivale population. Should one be concerned? BTW 23 out of 69 councillors are female.

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